Jenna (Keri Russell) works as a waitress at Joe’s Pie Shop having a knack for making fantastic pies. Bored with life and in a loveless marriage to selfish Earl (Jeremy Sisto), she searches for a way out of her listless routine. Discovering she is pregnant, this sets off an emotional chain reaction as she confronts choices she has made. An affair with her doctor slowly brings her out of her shell and sparks within the flame of life. In between making the best pies imaginable, Jenna’s life changing decisions is one soufflĂ© she is determined not to ruin.
Writer, Director and Co-Star Adrienne Shelly presents a quirky romantic comedy that has genuine bite. The trio of waitresses at Joe’s shop form a unique family who initially accept their lot in life. What comes out is the need to further enrich one’s life and find genuine truth in relationships. Each character’s romantic entanglements hide their own unhappiness and their need to escape their humdrum existence. Jenna is more than just ‘a waitress’ but someone who still has a lot to offer when given a chance to shine.
Whilst parts of the film suffer from too much exposition, the central message remains constant. The need to re-invent them-selves and not adhere to conformity is one the cast deliver with relish. Keri Russell makes a beguiling lead and portrays a strong charm. Jenna’s willingness to break free of her mundane shackles is well realised by Russell. Her unconventional romance with the doctor, played by Nathan Fillion, provide many amusing moments without being too far fetched. Andy Griffith’s role as old Joe gives the veteran actor one of his best recent performances. It’s interesting that Griffith appears in this, as the film almost has the same tone as his earlier TV hit ‘The Andy Griffith Show’, which also showed life in a small country town.
Waitress may be marketed as a romantic comedy, but is has a much darker feel amidst the one liners. Aspects of the screenplay adhere to formula at times but it has an edge that makes it stand out. Jenna’s naming of her pies after current domestic circumstances is an amusing touch, giving the movie a nice whimsical flavour.
The creative force behind ‘Waitress’, Adrienne Shelly, tragically died before the film was released. This gives a somewhat sad irony to a story about grabbing chances before its too late and the value of friendship. Waitress may not be as life affirming as it aims to be but provides engaging viewing nonetheless.
Rating out of 10: 7

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